When Upton Sinclair serialized The Jungle during the early part of the last century, he “wrote the novel to portray the life of the immigrant in America, but readers were more concerned with the large portion pertaining to the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early-20th century, and the book is now often interpreted and taught as only an exposure of the industry of meatpacking.” Modern anti-factory-farming activists, would-be inheritors of Sinclair’s mantle, have used our own century’s version of street-level communications technology — undercover videos — as their most potent weapon. According to the NYTimes, state legislators in debt to Big Agribusiness are trying to make this illegal:
Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals.
Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.
In Iowa, where agriculture is a dominant force both economically and politically, such undercover investigations could soon be illegal.
A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility. It would also criminalize lying on an application to work at an agriculture facility “with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.”
Similar legislation is being considered in Florida and Minnesota, part of a broader effort by large agricultural companies to pre-emptively block the kind of investigations that have left their operations uncomfortably — and unpredictably — open to scrutiny…
Talk about gilding the budget-priced, salmonella-tainted egg. Don’t stop the criminal behavior, just make it illegal to demonstrate that such criminal behavior ever happened!
Read the whole article (not while you’re eating, though), because the details are appalling and damning. And, yes, it does give Mr. Sinclair his due.